Never did I imagine I shall pen a second post on the Rocketry – the film. Not exactly on the film but based on the film. Check what I wrote towards the end of the review: the film is cerebral and shall make you think!

So, it so happened that a friend had penned a blog and put forward this pointed question: “Why did Dr Kalam knowing Nambi from close quarters did not come to his rescue ?” subsequent to a table topic cue provided to him in our club’s Toastmasters Meeting.

Here, I shall address the above question based on my thoughts and perception.

We often tend to look at all friendships from the Krishna-Sudama lens – it’s unfair! Friendship can have a million hues and types. Krishna-Sudama’s might have been a unique one but it’s not necessary that any friendship that doesn’t fall in that equivalence is less of a friendship or that it must always rise to that level!

Now, from what we know from the film : Dr Kalam was more into solid fuels but Dr Nambi shifted to liquid fuels. Also Dr Nambi believed more in commercialization of rocket technology as compared to Dr Kalam – reason the latter shook hands with Dr Nambi and kind of distanced himself, preferring to keep to his own sphere of research. So Dr Kalam’s in-group of people could have been different and a departure from Dr Nambi’s and the latter tended to be out-group. Favouring people who are in our group as opposed to those in out-group is called “In-Group Favouritism” and this is a Cognitive bias. Who knows such a bias might have stopped short Dr Kalam from helping out Dr Nambi !?!

Secondly, Dr Kalam was holding a constitutional position when Dr Nambi’s case was ongoing in Supreme Court. This means the former was in the glare of public eye. It’s said : that the more people are around, the less likely we are to save a victim. And this is known as “By-Stander Effect”. Could Dr Kalam have been afflicted by the By-Stander Effect which came in the way of his helping out Dr Nambi !?!

Thirdly, going by the film, let’s assume there were no past records of exchanging favours / help between Dr Kalam and Dr Nambi. Neither Dr Kalam might have received any favour/help from Dr Nambi. Now, it’s said, we are more likely to help out a second time if we have helped a person already in the past and if we have not received help from him/her. Assuming, Dr Kalam hadn’t ever extended any favour/help in the past to Dr Nambi, helping him out first time might have been difficult. This would have been made even more difficult if ever Dr Kalam had received some favour/help from Dr Nambi (we don’t know!). This is known as the “Ben Franklin Effect”. Could Dr Kalam have been caught up in a Ben Franklin type of cognitive bias which prevented him from helping Dr Nambi !?!

Also, Dr Kalam being in the same field as Dr Nambi, he could have known or been privy to a lot of insider information. That would have made him less confident about helping Dr Nambi. Conversely, us, readers or who saw the film and has very little insider information, may be more sanguine that Dr Kalam could have helped Dr Nambi. This is known as the “Dunning-Kruger Effect”. Could the Dunning-Kruger Effect got the better of Dr Kalam which prevented him from helping out Dr Nambi?

Last but not the least, if you are reading this and seeing a lot of bias stacked against Dr Kalam, well, this is known as a “Blind Spot Bias” where we tend to see all bias in other people and less so amongst us.

Bias / no bias, it’s often that we prefer to be left to our lot to fight our own battles and we don’t seek help (same can be dangerous at times) and Dr Nambi could have been no different…who knows!

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